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How bicyclists can avoid or respond to a dooring incident

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2024 | Bicycle Accidents

Cycling is a fantastic way to get around, but greater exposure to road hazards means you have to remain especially cautious.

One common danger is the risk of dooring incidents, which is when a parked car’s door suddenly opens into your path. Therefore, it is helpful to know ways to avoid these collisions and how to respond if one happens.

Be aware of the door zone

The “door zone” refers to the area alongside parked cars where an opening door can strike you. While riding in a bike lane, position yourself at least 4 feet away from parked cars. This gives you enough space to maneuver safely and reduces the chance of colliding with an unexpectedly opened door.

Stay vigilant and use defensive riding techniques

Defensive riding techniques can literally save your life. Constantly scan ahead for parked cars, and look for signs that indicate someone may be inside, such as brake lights or movement.

Before passing a parked car, glance inside to check for occupants, and if you see someone inside or are unsure, slow down and prepare to take evasive action if necessary. You may find it beneficial to connect with other local cyclists to learn other practical techniques.

Take the lane when necessary

When there is not enough space to ride safely away from parked cars, do not hesitate to “take the lane,” which means to ride in the center of the lane instead of hugging the curb. This strategy can prevent unsafe passing by motorists and keep you out of the door zone.

Use sharrows wisely

“Sharrows,” or shared lane markings, are arrows on the road that indicate where cyclists should ride. They often sit outside the door zone to promote safer cycling. When riding on streets with sharrows, position yourself through the center of the arrow to avoid swinging doors.

Respond promptly to a dooring incident

Despite taking precautions, accidents can still happen. If you are in a dooring incident, follow these steps:

  1. Stay calm, and assess your injuries
  2. Exchange information with the motorist, including name, contact information and insurance details
  3. Seek medical attention promptly
  4. Report the incident to the relevant authorities, and request an incident report

By following these tips and staying alert while cycling, you can reduce the risk of a dooring incident and enjoy a safer journey. However, if someone’s carelessness results in your injuries, remember that you have the right to compensation for your damages.